The Delta Grassroots Caucus (DGC) is a broad coalition of grassroots leaders in the eight-state Delta region. DGC is also a founding partner of the Economic Equality Caucus,
which advocates for economic equality across the USA.

Delta Caucus Joins Nov. 4-5 Economic Equality Coalition event, Washington, DC

Posted on June 24, 2015 at 02:03 PM

The Delta Grassroots Caucus has agreed to join forces with other major economically distressed regions like Appalachia, the Southwest Border, distressed areas in the Midwest, and inner cities in a national summit led by the Economic Equality Coalition, on Nov. 4-5, 2015 in Washington, DC.

Key participants will be high-level speakers for the major Presidential campaigns from both parties, Members of Congress, and distinguished leaders on vital issues related to economic equality for working families across the country.

We have been working with many of our colleagues who have collaborated with us for many years on this event and have just now set the dates. These events require many months of advance planning so we have to start way ahead of time.

The scope of this conference will be much broader-essentially national–than Delta regional events in the past, although the Delta Grassroots Caucus will be one of the key organizers. Leaders from the other regions agreed with the Delta Caucus that we can amplify our voices to the national powers that be by joining forces among those regions that have historically lagged far behind in America’s prosperity.

SAVE THE DATES OF NOV. 4-5-This is an initial “save the dates” notification. The event is over four months away and we are sure everyone recognizes that many details will be finalized later on.

Space is limited so if you would like to be there please RSVP as soon as possible to or (202) 360-6347. Registration information is below in this message.

This will be the first time in four years that the Delta Grassroots Caucus has participated in a major conference in Washington, DC. We convened for our fall conference the last three years in Memphis, Tennessee, West Memphis and Helena-West Helena, Arkansas, to meet in those vital Delta communities, but also due to a widespread belief that with the sluggish economy and the partisan gridlock in Washington, DC, it just was not worthwhile to take an expensive, time-consuming trip to DC.

The situation is changing this year, first of all because the beginning of the Presidential election season has heightened interest in activism at the national level, because the next opportunity for major change in the Greater Delta Region will be with the next President and Congress, and we need to begin weighing in with them at the beginning of the electoral cycle.

Moreover, while the Delta and the other distressed regions that will be highlighted at this conference have not participated equally in the recovery from the recession, we are seeing some improvement in many of our partners’ budgets, enabling somewhat more funding for traveling to an event on Capitol Hill.

We should also recognize that although admittedly the gridlock in DC is still a major problem, if we weigh in collectively with so many similarly situated populations across the country, we may get at least some constructive actions for economic development. There are vital pending issues including opening up farm trade to Cuba, funding for highways and other infrastructure improvements, small business job creation, health care for underserved populations, equal pay for equal work for women and other women’s issues, SNAP, school meals and other funding for USDA nutrition programs, and affordable housing.

There are differing views about the Trans-Pacific trade agreement in our various organizations, but we are better off and are likely to get at least a somewhat better result if we actively weigh in with the powers that be. Many of our colleagues believe that the trade deal will increase jobs in some sectors of the economy, but a package of aid for dislocated workers thrown out of work by changes caused by international trade should be included as part of the package.

Focus has to be small towns, rural and urban: While much of the worst poverty in America is in the small towns and rural areas and Appalachia, the Greater Delta Region, Southwest Border, parts of the Midwest and other similarly situated regions are a major part of America’s poverty, we must include the inner cities in this conference, and we will have participation from a number of major urban areas like New York City, Washington, DC, Baltimore, St. Louis/Ferguson, Missouri, Memphis and New Orleans.

The powers that be in Presidential campaigns, Members of Congress and national economic development organizations will not pay full attention to an event that is either entirely rural or entirely urban. Their scope has to be national.

At the national level they will pay more attention to several similar populations representing a broad cross-section of America than to one region–they will often say that we have to have a national scope and cannot just focus on one region.

What helps the Delta in our nation’s economic policies will help similarly situated populations in Appalachia, Southwest Border, the Midwest.

Even in the Greater Delta Region, we have always viewed the impoverished neighborhoods in New Orleans, Memphis, Little Rock and our other urban areas as part and parcel of our mission area, although we know that the worst poverty continues to be in the many small towns and rural areas across the region of eight states and 10 million people. The focus has to be rural and urban, and while there are differences, populations suffering from economic inequality have many common issues and challenges.

None of these comments change the reality that the very worst poverty in America is in smaller towns of up to 50,000 population or smaller and rural areas. Those populations are scattered geographically and often have long distances to travel for jobs, training, health care and other basic amenities and assistance.

Collaborative, inclusive approach for all populations affectd most by economic inequality: The poor in rural areas also have often migrated to Chicago, New York, Memphis, St. Louis and other urban areas, so urban and rural poverty are inter-related. In may cases they found greater opportunity, in other cases they became part of the inner city impoverished neighborhoods. This is a national problem and we want to see this as a collaborative venture aganst economic inequality, without divisions among regions or urban vs. rural.


Opening session: Wednesday evening, Nov. 4, at the Gold Room of the Rayburn US House of Representatives building, 4:15 p.m. to 7:45 p.m.

Thursday, Nov. 5, session at one of the Senate meeting rooms (TBD-Senate meeting rooms are not reserved this far in advance), 8:45 a.m. to noon

Thursday, Nov. 5 closing session at location on Capitol Hill (TBD) from about 1:15 p.m. to 3:15 p.m.

Key participants and/or organizers thus far for the Economic Equality Coalition conference on Capitol Hill for Nov. 4-5, 2015 on Capitol Hill include:

–Lee Powell, steering committee for the Economic Equality Coalition and executive director, Delta Grassroots Caucus;

–Joel Berg, nationally recognized expert on hunger and poverty, Executive Director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger,;

–Moises Loza and the national Housing Assistance Council, headquarters in Washington, DC;

–Victor Vasquez, formerly Presidential appointee at USDA for Presidents Clinton and Obama, now nonprofit leader in the Southwest Border region, which extends along the Rio Grande valley and beyond in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California;

–Wilson Golden, Presidential appointee at US DOT for Secretary Rodney Slater in the Clinton administration, former executive at the Xerox corporation in Washington, DC, a native of Mississippi now residing in Georgia;

–Barbara Leach of Iowa, Presidential appointee at USDA for Presidents Clinton and Obama at USDA, from Iowa and is knowledgeable about significant pockets of poverty in the Midwest;

–Janis Kearney, author of a biography of the famous civil rights leader Daisy Bates, author, founder of Writing Our World Press in Little Rock, Arkansas, former White House aide and diarist to President Clinton;

–Colleagues from the Appalachian region with whom we have worked for many years;

-Minnie Bommer, long-time Delta regional advocate from west Tennessee, first African American woman elected to the city council of Covington, Tennessee;

–Millie Atkins, manager of Century Link’s broadband access expansion in the Delta region, based in Monroe, Louisiana.

Registration: There is only limited space in the Capitol Hill meeting locations. Partners who are receiving this newsletter are invited, but since we are joining forces in a regional coalition there may be somewhat fewer places available than usual.

You reserve a space and register by mailing in the registration fees.

Registration fees are $100 each.

For those from the Greater Delta Region who wish to take part in the Economic Equality Coalition–

Please make out the check to “Delta Caucus” and mail to:

Delta Caucus

5030 Purslane Place

Waldorf, MD 20601

GROUP HOTEL: Group hotel information will be forthcoming soon.

PLEASE NOTE: All attendees are responsible for making their hotel reservations and for taxi or other transportation to the conference meetings.

While we will have a group hotel, many people may prefer another hotel and that is of course your decision.

We do call a number of taxis leaving from the group hotel and there is some value for networking and arriving as a group from the group hotel.

This will be the broadest scope of any conference we have participated in for many years. Again, this will make a bigger impact by joining forces with other major populations across the country who have not thus far participated in prosperity and economic equality in America.